I’m thinking a lot about boats at the moment. For my 19th century American Literature module next term I have to read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and although I’m a little daunted I’m looking forward to the journey it promises when I finally pick it up. But, I wondered, perhaps the sea and I should just get a little more acquainted first. “If it’s nice tomorrow, shall we go to the coast?” I asked on Saturday evening. So the next day, a lazy Sunday morning behind us, we take the car north to Blakeney.
If we’re at my end of the county we normally head to Holkham, Happisburgh or maybe Wells, so Blakeney is still a rarity and thus a treat, especially on a bright Sunday early-afternoon. From the car park there’s a footpath heading east, but we make our way a little off the beaten track into the scrubland to follow the track down to the sea.
The tide’s out, so we admire the boats left in the muddy etuary and wonder how often they get taken out. One is aptly named Mudlark, and we spot Hey Jude, Nog, and The Idle Scamp along the way too. On days like these we talk about the hypothetical future, never quite sure whether we’re really joking, despite the laughter and the exaggerated fantasies.
We pause to look out at the view, at the sea on the edge of the horizon, at the other walkers enjoying the sunshine. There’s no need for words, not really; we’ve been in tune for so long now that in these moments our thoughts dance together in the breeze above us as our fingers intertwine.
We’ve not come that far but we turn and head back along the path, over the delicate wooden bridges and back to the car, journeying to a favourite little cafe a little further along. The food’s fab and the coffee even better, and conversation is just easy and effortless, as it should be.
Behind the cafe is a collection of not-quite-seaworthy vessels, from impressive motorboats to pretty little yachts and rowboats. I hope that they will be worked on and restored, otherwise the space could end up feeling like a boat graveyard before long, so we wander around trying (and failing) to pick one.
Yet all too soon our little day out has to wrap itself away, and we make our way back to the car and to home. On days like these, though, perhaps it’s better to leave the heart wanting, just a little, safe in the knowledge that each happy day can help chart the course to countless more.